There is a difference between pressure and stress. One causes the other, and one we can reduce and shunt off. Learn the difference between these two in your life and what you can do about them.

Stress is the product of pressure. Set an empty plastic water bottle upright and place the palm of your hand on the cap. Apply pressure by pressing down. The pressure is applied to the top of the bottle, but the stress will reveal itself at the weakest point in the bottle. Usually, this is halfway down the bottle at the narrow part. But it serves to demonstrate the difference between pressure and stress.

The pressures of life are unavoidable. They are part and parcel of everything we do. We face pressures from relationships, society, the work force, and the government. Each of these pressures then produces stress in our lives.

As pressure mounts, so does stress. It produces friction. It grinds us down. It saps strength and energy. It always attacks you where you are the weakest.

A person can handle pressure if they can do three things:

1. Have a reason and cause for being under the pressure
2. Finding a way to bleed off and relieve stress
3. Strengthen their weak areas

Nervous breakdowns result from someone who either can't relieve stress, or who can't find a cause or reason to be under the pressure. The stress builds up where they are weakest and then destroys them. Someone who can't handle the stresses in life will eventually try to run. Someone who can't handle the pressures in life can suddenly snap.

I pastor a Church. As such, there is pressure on me from many different directions. I have to worry about things that no one else in the Church does. If something goes wrong, I get the call. If something bad happens, I get blamed. That's part of the pressure. This pressure causes stress. Sometimes that stress is evident in relationships, in mounting frustration or exasperation, and can play havoc with my health. Wherever I am the weakest, the stress appears.

Stress will always appear first in the weakest areas of your life. If your relationships are weak, then the pressures of life will begin to build stress there first. That is the nature of the beast. If you have a quick temper, then pressure will produce stress on there and you are much more apt to get angry.

The pressure is something I accept gladly. I believe that God made me and called me to this very thing. It is my purpose, my cause, and my life. The pressures of the ministry are not odious or distasteful to me. I accept them and bear them gladly. That is the best way to deal with the pressures. The stress, however, can grind me into dust, if I let it. I need effective means to bleed off much of the stress that the pressure produces in my life. And I must strengthen those areas in my life that are the weakest. If I can't do that, the stress can become overwhelming and I'll start having thoughts of quitting and running.

The same is true for you. You need to have a reason to be under the pressures of life. Then, you need means and methods of bleeding off and reducing the stress that the pressure produces. Remember, the stress always appears first in your most vulnerable and weakest areas.

Author's Bio: 

Greg S. Baker is a Pastor, Counselor, and Author specializing in building and strengthening relationships.

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